Police and emergency services are searching for a 55-year-old man who was reported missing off the coast of Innisfail. Picture: JOSHUA DAVIES
Police and emergency services are searching for a 55-year-old man who was reported missing off the coast of Innisfail. Picture: JOSHUA DAVIES

Growing fears for FNQ man missing at sea

POLICE will decide this morning to resume an "intense" land and sea search for a Tablelands fisherman missing off Innisfail in waters well known for crocodiles and sharks.

It has been two days since the 55-year-old Tolga man left home with plans of heading out to the reef from Mourilyan Harbour and failed to return.

His empty boat was found adrift off the small Cassowary Coast community of Coconuts at the mouth of the Johnstone River by two kayakers late on Tuesday after his worried family called police when he failed to return home.

Police and emergency services are searching for a 55-year-old man who was reported missing off the coast of Innisfail. Picture: JOSHUA DAVIES
Police and emergency services are searching for a 55-year-old man who was reported missing off the coast of Innisfail. Picture: JOSHUA DAVIES

The "intense" search covered more than 250 sqnm yesterday involving helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and boats.

Far North police Insp Denis Fitzpatrick (right) said grave fears were held for his safety and police would decide this morning how the search would continue.

He said it was believed the man might have fallen overboard and was not wearing a life jacket at the time.

Local boatie and former Department of Agriculture and Fisheries inspector Mark Anderson said the waters in the area were perilous.

Police and emergency services are searching for a 55-year-old man who was reported missing off the coast of Innisfail. Picture: JOSHUA DAVIES
Police and emergency services are searching for a 55-year-old man who was reported missing off the coast of Innisfail. Picture: JOSHUA DAVIES

"If he went overboard close to the coast there are some 4m crocs around the coastline of the mouth. This could be a possibility if no one is found," he said.

"If he is alive he will be 100 miles from where he went over, the search area now would be massive and they will need every available resource to find him."

Insp Fitzpatrick said the 5.6m Bar Crusher vessel was found undamaged and upright with bait and food inside, although it was unknown whether he made it to the Reef.

Police and emergency services are searching for a 55-year-old man who was reported missing off the coast of Innisfail. Picture: JOSHUA DAVIES
Police and emergency services are searching for a 55-year-old man who was reported missing off the coast of Innisfail. Picture: JOSHUA DAVIES

He said there were no suspicious circumstances and no suggestion of a medical episode.

"We believe he was an experienced fisherman but we have some information he hasn't been fishing or used this particular vehicle for a couple of years," he said. "We've got no idea what happened other than he's not on the vessel, the vessel's been located, so we're searching suspecting he's fallen into the water."